The full name of this country, Bosnia – Herzegovina, is taken from its two main regions. Bosnia, in the north is a land composed of high, forested mountains with dramatic peaks. Herzegovina, in the south, drops to rugged hills and farmland. Both regions have large iron and coal reserves. The country was governed by communists from 1945. Communism collapsed in 1990, and Yugoslavia broke back up into separate independent states.
These top ten attractions are the not to be missed places when in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Bašcaršija, without a shadow of a doubt is one of the most beautiful and charming cities of Europe. The mosques, the Sebilj (translation – “road”), the Koranic school, Brusa Bezistan Mall, the clock tower and the cobbled streets are a leap in the Ottoman past, while the bullet holes that are still visible on many buildings propel every visitor towards the saddest recent past. Be surrounded by the proximity of mosques, synagogues, Orthodox and Catholic churches. Be amused each time the call to prayer of the muezzin begins and the peeling of the suno bells in the old churches happen after another. The historic center of the city and the Turkish quarter is the most characteristic of Sarajevo. Bašcaršija means “old market” in Turkish language. This place is really old and dates back to the 16th century. The entire area itself is very similar to any market in the Arab quarter of other cities or the many bazaars in Istanbul.
A few feet away from the fountain, there are many souvenir shops and restaurants that offer for a very reasonable fee a delicious serving of a local cuisine. Do not miss trying the Bosnian pastries such as the authentic Baklava or Kadaif in one of the many pastry shops you can find in the square. In many souvenir shops, handicrafts from armor shells left over from the last war can be purchased. At night, the Turkish neighborhood and the overall atmosphere become even more magical as the bars and shops light up to illuminate this part of the city in lively colors.
Old Town (Stari Grad)
The Old Town of Sarajevo is steeped in history dating back to several centuries. It is well located on the road between East and West where a lot of people circulate. Currently, the population is young, colorful, multicultural and very welcoming. Around every street and corner there is a church, a mosque, a museum, ruins, shops and various restaurants with affordable prices. In the old town, the atmosphere is fantastic, alive, and full of diversity and there is so much to see. This place is truly distinctive and one cannot help but recall the futile war (useless like all wars) that happened here a few years ago and all the deaths it caused.
However, Sarajevo is now more than ever a city to visit especially the old town which is a fusion of cultures, religions, and landmarks that magically warrants an obligatory visit. Turn the foot as much as possible to discover all the wonders that the city has to offer like; the Mosque of Ali Pasha, the Serb Orthodox Cathedral, Cathedral of the Heart of Christ, and the Old Synagogue. At night, it becomes a very lively center with pubs and taverns full of young people. Getting immersed into the festive atmosphere offered by these entertainment lounges is a perfect way to end the day from the tour and shopping adventures around the capital city. The course is similar to the outskirts of the cities in Eastern Europe. You have to go there even if it is still off the beaten track.
Sarajevo War Tunnel
The Sarajevo War Tunnel is 800 meters long and occupies the whole twenty yards to show the wounds that are still clearly visible on its walls and on the minds of if the people. The place is a bit out of hand and not easy to find. Accessible by a taxi ride from the Old town, you will arrive and be welcomed by traces of bullet holes on the walls that will immediately catapult your memory into another world. The movies shown gives a good idea of how life was not too long ago, some rooms show exposed photos, military clothes and tools used to dig the tunnel that was built to transport food and anything else to the ATRA part of the airport in Sarajevo.
The place evokes a peculiar environment of a life truly lived and suffered. It is a corner of the city where you can relive the tragic events of the war not many years ago, and to understand how the people who lived through those years survived.
Once you get there, you forget about the challenges of reaching the attraction and you dive your mind into another dimension. The already filmed footage provides an insight into life during the war and how it came up with the idea to build the underground passage. Make a visit to the small museum that is full of war memorabilia’s, letters, photographs and everything that survived that period, and then finish it with the walk for a short distance, but not much in the narrow but high 1.8 meter width tunnel, all cramped and dark that makes you move and shudder. It is not yet a destination for mass tourism, but it is open and affordable like almost everything Sarajevo offers.
This multimedia gallery is located in the city center in the square where the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of Jesus stands. Although not very visible from the outside is properly reported. It is accessed by entering an apartment building and rising to the first floor. Inside are exposed photo and video interviews documenting the tragedy of Srebrenica, one of the most haunting and bloody of the greatest tragedy that has consumed the Slavic people of the south during the nineties. The images are very influential especially the semantic photos documenting the “thoughts” of the members of the UN contingent that had the task of “protecting” the area at the time of the massacre.
Listen to all the stories of the women (the surviving witnesses are mostly women). It is very difficult to even talk about this even if you have not lived in Bosnia. The exhibition on the massacre in Srebrenica is very sad, tragic, and haunting. There are pictures and videos that are very strong, too graphic and carry a detailed explanation but also a little distracting to see and browse in the computer. All the exhibits are in English and properly captioned with designated markers and plates.
The exhibition is very comprehensive. By purchasing a ticket you can go back several times to properly complete the visit. The iconographic you can visit in a short time and also the BBC video projected on the larger screen that does not last much. The part that takes the most time is perhaps the narrative that is done across two screens with headphones placed immediately next to the ticket. Here, you can follow the reconstruction of the tragic history of those days, day after day, hour after hour. Through two other schemes with headphones on the other side you can hear the direct testimony of the living survivors.
Gazi Husrev – Beg Mosque
The Gazi Husrev Beg Mosque is one of the most important examples of Ottoman architecture in Sarajevo. The Begova džamija, as it is popularly known, was completed in 1531 after a year of construction. Built in the early classical style, the domed mosque has long been the largest Islamic house of worship in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its namesake, Gazi Husrev Beg, is a nephew of Sultan Bayezid II, the one who donated the construction of the mosque. His grave is located on the left part next to the mosque. Its minaret is 47 meters high. The dome has a radius of 13 meters. The prayer room is covered with precious carpets and its walls are decorated with Koranic sayings and arabesques.
In the central part of its sacred grounds is the fountain. Here is where the faithful performs the ritual ablutions before prayer. Interesting to note is the buzz at Friday prayers. Since there is often no place in the mosque, many of the faithful have their carpet spread within the premises outside. The women pray separated from the men and behind the blinds. You should not definitely plan a visit for prayer at noon on Friday and during the Ramadan period because it is always very busy here. But by all means, you can stay and hear the “call to prayer” that happens more than five times a day in front of the mosque.
The Vrelo Bosna is one of the best places to stroll and admire nature in Sarajevo. You can always walk the great avenue to enjoy the fresh air. Especially in the summer months where you can find something “cool” as opposed to the old town. Even in winter, it is still an ideal place to spend a quiet time because there are less people going here than in summer. After about a 3.5 km long walk, you can enjoy a coffee, tea or lemonade and leave the beautiful surroundings. For those who have more time to explore, there are horse-drawn carriages for rent to better explore and admire the Vrelo Bosna. In any case, you should use the coach at least once. The drivers are always very nice and offer the children a first driving lesson on the reins.
Sebilj Brunnen (Fountain)
The wooden fountain, built in 1891, was originally designed specifically for the purpose of supplying water to all the traders. Of course, as with all the sights, the Sebilj Brunnen Fountain has its superstitions.
It is believed that if someone drinks water from it, the person is bound to return to Sarajevo again for a visit. It is a symbol that every visitor to Sarajevo will forever be remembered. From this fountain, you see the Turkish historical center of the city including the mosques, bars to eat, the delicious pita and souvenir shops with an oriental flavor.
Old Bridge (Stari Most)
Located in the old town of Mostar, one of its famous attractions is the Stari Most. The old bridge is very nice and was originally built in the 16th century. The famous bridge of Mostar was created as a symbol of peaceful coexistence between the Muslims and the Croats. On the 9th of November 1993 it was destroyed by the Croatian armed forces.
Today, Stari Most is only an exact reconstruction of the old bridge. The bridge has a width of 4 meters and a length of 30 feet. It is always fully packed with curious tourists and enterprising locals selling souvenir items. It is the most photographed historic structure in Mostar.
Our Lady of Peace in Medjugorje (Apparition Site)
Faith is the spring that drives many people to visit and pray to Our Lady of Peace in Medjugorje that has appeared and continues to appear in this place surrounded by mountains and lush vegetation. Until now it registers a large participation of the faithful in the Holy Mass offered in many languages during the day. It is a religious place full of peace, spirituality, and tranquility.
It has a nice landscape and the interesting history of the Medjugorje. Even the church down to the village is beautiful and spacious both inside and outside. The apparition site is well organized, clean, and has small but very nice shops that sell souvenirs, clothing and gifts all at very good and low price (starts from 10 cents).
The emerald green and crystal clear river runs through the beautiful capital of the waterways of Bihac. Everywhere on the banks of this river you can find cozy and romantic spots where you can admire the transparent views of the water. You can also participate in excursions such as a rafting or kayaking trip.
This is pure fun, with the boat traversing through the natural canyons and the scenic rapids. An excursion to the falls is highly recommended. For anglers and fly fishers, it is a true paradise. Europe’s best fishing spots can be found here at the Una River.